The Helsinki District Court rejected the claim of the Russian businessman Boris Rotenberg, who also has Finnish citizenship, against three Scandinavian banks, local media reported on the eve.
The reason for the lawsuit by the billionaire was the refusal of Nordea, Danske Bank and Osuuspankki to carry out Rotenberg transactions, including the most routine ones, for example, paying taxes to the Finnish budget or paying electricity bills. A businessman under US sanctions demanded that banks resume service to his accounts and pay € 70,000 in compensation. However, the court sided with banks that referred to the law on money laundering and the risk that they would be subject to US secondary sanctions.
“The damage that can occur as a result of blocking these payments is mainly due to the loss of credit information and difficulties in resolving various issues related to the maintenance of assets. Since the applicant claims to be a billionaire, it cannot be considered that this will have a significant impact on the circumstances of his life, ”the court statement said. The court also focused attention on the fact that any interaction with persons involved in the sanction lists could lead to sanctions even for those who were not on the list, and the inclusion of national banks there could have serious consequences.
Experts polled by Forbes agree that the defeat of Rotenberg was predictable. “The court did not even have to resort to the concept of economic viability. The banks had a choice: to close the accounts for a toxic client from the SDN (sanctions list of the US Treasury) or to get under US sanctions. They chose the first. The court considered this circumstance to be of utmost necessity, excluding the responsibility of the bank for unlawfully breaking relations with a client, ”explains Sergei Pena Paper’s special adviser on sanctions law, Sergey Glandin.
The head of the anti-monopoly practice of FBK Legal, Sergey Yermolenko, believes that the logic of the court was that the stability of the financial system and Scandinavian banks serving millions of EU citizens is a value that is not only private, but also in some sense public. “The stability of the banking system is more valuable than the interests of the individual citizen, even if it is an EU citizen,” he explains. According to the lawyer, in the existing realities it was difficult to expect a different outcome, because the Scandinavian banks - like the Russian, and indeed any others - are forced to play according to historically established rules. “No one would argue that the principles of functioning of international banking are dictated by the United States. The dollar is one of the main currencies in settlements between various countries, and the United States controls dollar flows. No one needs these problems, ”emphasizes Yermolenko, adding that his double Finnish-Russian citizenship played not in favor of Rotenberg.
The representative of the PraeLegal law association in Russia, Alim Bishenov, is also convinced that Russian citizenship played against Rotenberg. “In this case, the court’s decision should be assessed taking into account the existing geopolitical situation and a certain confrontation of a number of countries with Russia. The court refused not literally, but broadly, and the decision should be interpreted as an act against Russia, and not against Rothenberg. Rotenberg is associated with the Russian authorities, they consider him a person very close to the Putin regime, ”he explains. The United States has long been using a similar broad approach, and now, as can be seen from this situation, other countries, too.